by Sean Smith
I have had the honor of writing this weekly column for over three years. It’s something that I look forward to every week. No matter what else I have going on with my life, researching and writing this column gives me a solid reason to escape the world and dive deep into a great song or artist for a few hours and share it with you the reader. I cherish that opportunity. But to be honest with you, my heart just isn’t in it this week.
Like most of you, I spent Tuesday night into Wednesday morning glued to the television watching the Presidential election returns come in. And like many of you, I was genuinely shocked to see that Americans elected Donald Trump to become our 45th President. I was left speechless.
On Tuesday morning I went to the polls with my 9-year-old daughter, and like 59 million other citizens I cast my vote for Hillary Clinton. I didn’t vote for Clinton because she was my ideal candidate for President. Far from it. I disagree with many of her positions on both domestic and foreign policy. Rather I voted for her because I was terrified of the thought of Donald Trump in the Oval Office. I didn’t want my daughter to grow up in a country where a man that openly mocked a disabled person held the highest elected office in the land. I didn’t want her to grow up in a nation where our President was a man that bullied those that disagreed with him, lied compulsively without remorse, and at minimum made abhorrent comments to and about women.
Growing up in a politically aware household, and as an only child, my daughter was well informed about all the political goings on in this election cycle. She watched the news with her mother and I. We had discussions around the dinner table about the importance of character. How important it was to treat every human being with respect, regardless of the situation. If there was one good thing, and in my opinion the only “good” thing, about Trump’s candidacy it was that my wife and I could use his many missteps and mistakes as teachable moments to impart life lasting lessons on our daughter.
So when my daughter accompanied me to the polls, we were both looking forward to casting a vote against Donald Trump. We wanted to make a statement, and their was a lesson in it for her as well. The lesson was that she should stand up and speak out against what she saw as wrong, and in this specific case cast a vote against it. But we both wanted to do more. When we got home we decided the best way to do more was to volunteer a few hours of our day for Clinton’s campaign, and we called registered voters to try to get others to go out and vote against Donald Trump. Think about that. A nine-year-old little girl actually wanting to pick up a phone and call voters in swing states on her day off from school. She learned, and even taught me, the lesson that when you really believe in a cause it’s not enough to simply give voice or take action, but we should try to inspire others to do the same. So in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, when Trump was announced the winner of the election and the next President of the United States, I was speechless. Not only because I was terrified that he was our President-Elect, but because I had no idea what I was going to say to my daughter. What lesson is to be learned from this?
In the few sleep deprived hours since that morning I have pondered endlessly over that question. Finally arriving at the conclusion that there is not only a lesson for her to take away from this, but a lesson that I, along with 59 million others can learn as well. Like it or not, agree with it or not, Donald Trump will be our nation’s 45th President. While many of us may not respect him as a man, it is imperative to the integrity of our country’s government that we all maintain a certain level of respect for the office he now holds. The President of the United States. We also must resist the vengeful urge to hope he fails as President. We must instead hope, pray and even root for him to succeed. He is all of our President now, and as the leader of our country we should root for him to succeed in his job so that in turn our country will succeed. To root against him and wish failure upon him as the President is to root for the failure of our country.
We should remember that we are all Americans first, not Democrats or Republicans. Our top priority should be to see our nation prosper regardless of who or what party is leading us. Don’t get me wrong. It is more than okay to disagree on issues and speak out against what we may see as bad policy, but we should never obstruct the operation of government just because our party or choice of leader may not be the one leading it. Now I can already hear the Democrats reading this screaming at me through their computer, “But all the Republicans did to President Obama was obstruct him at every turn! They even shut down the government for goodness sakes!” While I don’t disagree with those sentiments, I would implore you to heed the lesson that our graceful and virtuous First Lady Michelle Obama taught us all earlier this year. “When they go low, we go high.” Or the lesson that I continually try to impart on my daughter. You cannot control the actions of others, you can only control your own. So regardless of what others may do, you should always do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do.
Oh, and there is one more lesson to take from this election season. As The Rolling Stones taught us with their 1969 timeless classic, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
The Rolling Stones
“You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
From Let It Bleed